Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Five Money Moves to Start the New Year off Right

Tired of all those New Year's resolutions you can never seem to keep? Don't set yourself up for failure. Here are five money moves that are actually attainable.

Create a Budget
It's kind of like joining a gym -- you've talked about creating a budget, but time after time, laziness has gotten the better of you. It's time to stop the madness and get serious about keeping track of your spending. Create a budget and set up a year's worth of calendar notifications reminding you to check your spending against it each month. Following a budget will help you see where you're overspending and identify more opportunities to save.

Pay Off Holiday Debt 
So you racked up a huge credit card bill in your attempt to shower friends and loved ones with holiday cheer. You wouldn't be the first. But don't make the mistake of letting that debt linger all the way into 2017. Instead, commit to paying it off as early as possible. Cut corners, go out less or get a second job for a few months if need be. Do whatever it takes to get the freshest possible financial start to the new year.

Save Your Raise 
If you're among the lucky folks getting a raise to welcome the new year, you may be tempted to spend that money on things like electronics, clothing or entertainment. Saving it, however, is a much smarter move. The average employee can expect to receive a three percent raise in the coming year. That figure accounts for rising cost-of-living expenses, but if your company dishes out performance-based pay increases as well, you could be looking at a much higher bump. Unless your rent or another major recurring bill happens to go up at that exact same time, you can capitalize on your pay increase by setting it up to automatically land in your savings account month after month. After all, if you're currently able to live without that extra money, there's a good chance you can continue to do so.

Learn to Cook 
Eating at restaurants is fun, and ordering in is easy and convenient. But while both habits are okay as an occasional indulgence, they're less than stellar as a way of life. First of all, restaurant and takeout meals are always going to be more expensive than making food yourself. Plus, when you let somebody else control the ingredients, you're likely to consume more calories than you'd otherwise intend. Here's a better idea: Why not learn to cook some of your favorite meals? You'll save money and feel good about the fact that you're actually using your kitchen for something other than storage. Plus, when you prepare your own food, you can control your portions, which means your new habit will not only be better for your wallet, but for your waistline as well.

Take Care of Your Health 
Being healthy isn't just good for your body; it's also good for your bank account. By staying in shape and scheduling your preventative care appointments, you'll be less likely to lose money in the form of medical bills from getting sick and missed work due to illness. You don't need to start training for a marathon or commit to five gym visits per week; even little changes can make a big difference. Walk the half-mile to work instead of riding the bus, or pledge to skip the elevator and take the stairs. You can tone up, lose those extra holiday pounds and save some money to boot.

What money-related resolutions are you hoping to keep this year?

Photo by mt 23 via cc.

By Maurie Backman Copyright 2016 brass Media, Inc.

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